Fall’s 5 Biggest Time Slot Battles

The broadcast upfronts week was full of buzzwords like "big data" and "viewability," but as usual, each presentation came down to content and which new shows viewers are going to actually watch this fall. Fallowing a season with huge scheduling moves (CBS landed Thursday Night Football; NBC moved The Blacklist opposite Scandal), next fall's slate is far more conservative, with only a few marquee time slot matchups on tap. And while delayed and nonlinear viewing have somewhat lessened the importance of lineups—"Network scheduling isn't a zero-sum game anymore," said Kelly Kahl, CBS senior evp, prime time—here are the biggest face-offs that advertisers, and network execs, will be keeping their eyes on come September:

1

Supergirl (CBS) vs. Gotham (Fox)

Mondays at 8

Consider this a preview of next March's Batman v Superman movie. Starting in November, two DC Comics properties will do battle for the first time on TV when CBS' splashy (and pricey) inaugural superhero drama, Supergirl, enters the fray opposite Fox's Batman prequel, Gotham. "We see this as a much broader show than just a comic book show," said CBS' Kahl, and indeed, Supergirl's thrilling trailer plays up the show's romantic elements right alongside the action. (Plus, unlike Gotham's adolescent Bruce Wayne, Supergirl is already battling bad guys.)

2

Blindspot (NBC) vs. NCIS: Los Angeles (CBS)

Mondays at 10

NBC's post-Voice slot is its most valuable launch pad. Blacklist turned into a huge hit there, but State of Affairs faltered last year. So NBC has tapped the very Blacklist-like Blindspot (a mysterious wild card—in this case, an amnesic, tattooed woman—teams up with the FBI to solve crimes) to try its luck against the durable NCIS spinoff.

3

Grandfathered (Fox) vs. The Muppets (ABC)

Tuesdays at 8

As if it wasn't hard enough to launch a network comedy these days, two of fall's most promising ones are in direct competition. John Stamos deftly balances laughs and heart in Grandfathered, while The Muppets are … the Muppets! (This time they spoof mockumentaries instead of variety shows.)

4

Quantico (ABC) vs. Limitless (CBS)

Tuesdays at 10

A pair of FBI-themed dramas will battle for ratings on Tuesday nights. Neither show immediately popped in their respective trailers, but CBS' adaptation of the 2011 Bradley Cooper film should get the early attention, thanks to occasional appearances by Cooper himself, who is also executive producing.

5

The Player (NBC) vs. How to Get Away With Murder (ABC)

Thursdays at 10

Viola Davis' film-to-television transition was so successful last year that Wesley Snipes is pulling a similar move in NBC's new Las Vegas-set action series, where he is curiously sidelined for most of the trailer's butt-kicking.

6

Our First Impressions of Next Season’s Other Noteworthy Plots